ACC M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 24th, 2012

  1. USA Today:  Miami Heat forward and former Duke star Shane Battier, recently offered some very high praise for his teammate, LeBron James. Battier said, “LeBron could have played at Duke, and I don’t say that about a lot of guys.” What Battier means is that few NBA players, particularly those of James’ caliber, would have been mentally tough enough to play for Coach K. Even though LeBron would likely have played at Ohio State if the one-and-done rule had been in effect when he was entering the professional ranks, it certainly can’t hurt Duke that one of its all-time greats is considering the game’s best player an honorary Blue Devil.  Additionally, James and Krzyzewski have enjoyed a great relationship during Coach K’s seven-year stint as the head coach of Team USA.
  2. Washington Post:  Despite Virginia Tech only having eight scholarship players this season, first year-head coach James Johnson is still intent on running an up-tempo offense. This would be a massive change from the Seth Greenberg era, when Virginia Tech regularly played one of the slowest paces in the ACC (aside from Tony Bennett’s glacial Virginia squads). During the team’s opening scrimmage, a larger percentage of the offense came in transition than from half-court sets. While it may be difficult for Virginia Tech to have success with this style in this season, Johnson wants to make this a long-term staple of his system. With some success this year, this could become a great recruiting tool up in Blacksburg.
  3. ESPN:  From the world of the bizarre: While on their overseas trip to Paris this offseason, most of Virginia’s basketball team managed to get trapped in a hotel elevator. In something that seems ripped from a bad movie or a claustrophobic person’s worst nightmare, head coach Tony Bennett narrates a video that describes this ordeal. It appears as though the players didn’t realize that the elevator capacity needed to be taken seriously, while also failing to adjust for the fact that basketball players are generally quite a bit larger than the average human. At the very least, it should have been a bonding experience for the team.
  4. Raleigh N&O:  The saga involving Tyler Hansbrough’s mother, Tami, continues. The university’s audit of Hansbrough (the former gifts officer) and her boyfriend and former boss, Matt Kupec, who was the head of UNC’s fundraising department before his resignation, has been completed. North Carolina determined that Kupec misspent $17,000 on a total of 13 trips under investigation, with much of it used on trips that he took with Hansbrough. Some of these trips were to go see the Tyler’s younger brother, Ben, play at Notre Dame, and several involved the use of UNC Medical Air planes. Kupec could potentially face criminal charges for his misconduct, and this scandal was just one of many likely responsible for UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s recent resignation.
  5. Sports Illustrated: SI ran an interesting piece about the most influential college basketball teams of all-time.  Following the usual suspects (Texas Western in 1966, and the 1979 Michigan State and Indiana State teams led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively), only one ACC team made the cut:  the 1974 NC State national champions. This team, led by David Thompson — the player who introduced otherworldly athleticism to college basketball — Tommy Burleson, and Monte Towe, broke UCLA’s streak at the time of seven straight national titles. NC State hopes to rekindle some of its past glory with this year’s squad.  Even if they can make a run, they will obviously not hold a candle to the unbelievable team that brought the Wolfpack its first national title.
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Morning Five: 09.18.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 18th, 2012

  1. The NCAA eligibility train rolls on, and NC State’s Mark Gottfried was Monday’s recipient of the excellent news that superstar freshman Rodney Purvis is eligible to suit up in a Wolfpack uniform next season. The issue in Purvis’ case revolved around the legitimacy of his high school — Upper Room Christian Academy, in Raleigh, whose first-ever class to graduate included Purvis — but during an 80-minute deliberation on Monday, an NCAA core course subcommittee saw enough evidence that the big guard is adequately prepared for the rigors of a college education and made the right decision to let him play. We’ll have more on this later today, but the early buzz is that this makes NC State the favorite to win the ACC for the first time in… how long?
  2. Speaking of getting a college education, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp announced on Monday that this academic year would be his last at the university in that position. Even though the academic scandal that has rocked the university in recent months most likely started prior to his tenure as chancellor of the school in 2008, the most recent black eye involving fundraising director Matt Kupec and Tyler Hansbrough’s mother, Tami, taking personal trips on the university dime, happened on his watch. One member of the Board of Governors said that Thorp, as “captain of the ship” at UNC, had become “the face of damage control” and lauded him for sacrificing himself for the good of the school. It doesn’t take an insider to see the writing on the wall that more changes are likely to come in Chapel Hill as additional details about the academic scandal are revealed by the upcoming Martin Report, due to release next month.
  3. Everybody is well aware of the near-mutiny that occurred in Lubbock earlier this month at Texas Tech (side note: Billy Gillispie has been ordered by his doctors to avoid stress for the next 30 days), but what is going on on the other side of the state at Rice? Ben Braun’s team lost four transfers over the summer and followed that up by losing two more players in just the past week — notably, Omar Oraby (USC), and most importantly, Owls star Arsalan Kazemi. The 6’7″ senior who averaged 12/10 last season en route to all-CUSA honors, was roommates with Oraby and no doubt must have missed their nightly games on the PlayStation. Jeff Goodman reported Monday that Kazemi is looking at six schools including Texas, Oregon, Cincinnati, Florida, Ohio State and Kentucky. He will have to sit out the mandated transfer year per NCAA rules, but the talented Iranian would provide a very nice one-year punch to any of those schools in 2013-14.
  4. Louisville may have found its replacement for preseason All-American Peyton Siva in 2013-14 and perhaps beyond, as 5’11″ waterbug Chris Jones committed to the Cardinals out of the junior college ranks on Monday. The rising sophomore, originally from Memphis, averaged 18/5/4 APG in leading his Northwest Florida State team to a 26-1 record and an appearance in the NJCAA Division I championship game last year. According to Jones, Rick Pitino does not want the reins of his offense in a freshman point guard’s hands, so if things work out properly he’ll have upperclassman leadership at that position for the next three seasons.
  5. Speaking of Pitino and in light of Jim Calhoun’s recent retirement, CBSSports.com‘s Matt Norlander took a look at the 11 current college basketball coaches with at least one national title and handicapped each one’s probable date of retirement. Be sure to take a look at his entire list, but he’s got more than half of those guys — six, to be exact — retiring within the next four years. The exercise here is one that depends on so many different and volatile factors (health, family, motivation, recruiting, etc.), but it says here that Pitino won’t hang up the whistle until he gets that elusive and self-validating second championship, while Krzyzewski is only likely to do so after he wins his fifth. Time will tell.
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ACC Weekly Five: 09.17.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on September 17th, 2012

  1. Sports Illustrated: In minor news that is of little interest to anyone, Notre Dame will be joining the ACC as a full member in all sports but football, where it will remain an independent but still schedule five ACC teams each year. This is strong news for the conference on the basketball side of things as Notre Dame has been ready to contend in most recent years. Though it’s likely to be a year or two before the Fighting Irish fully join the conference, once they are here, they will be here to stay. The ACC also approved a new exit fee for schools looking to leave the conference and the price tag is a little north of $50 million. In other words, get comfortable, Florida State.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Somehow, the story is still about Notre Dame, even when it’s about North Carolina. In the wake of the internal audit that revealed inappropriately paid for personal trips by UNC’s chief fundraiser Matt Kupec, Tami Hansbrough has joined Kupec in resigning her position. The story is pretty simple: The two were romantically involved and used the university’s money to pay for trips to watch former Tar Heel and Tami’s son Tyler Hansbrough play a couple of NBA games, but mostly to pay for trips to watch Tami’s other son, Ben Hansbrough, play for Notre Dame. It’s unclear whether this news is better or worse now that the Fighting Irish are headed to the ACC, though it remains, undeniably, really stupid.
  3. Daily Press: When the ACC was taking submissions for conference tournament sites for the years 2016-21, they get at least one unusual candidate: Consol Energy Arena, located in Pittsburgh, a bit farther north than the tournament is customarily held. The ACC Tournament has never been held farther north than Landover, Maryland, but the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins is going to take a shot at getting it. With the conference’s center of gravity now gradually shifting north after the recent realignment additions, the possibility makes a good deal of sense, particularly to those not as enamored of the charms of Greensboro, North Carolina.
  4. CBS Sports: Sam Cassell, Jr., has been ruled ineligible to play college basketball this season, a disappointing conclusion for a Maryland team that had hoped to benefit from the services of the son of one of the ACC’s finest. Meanwhile, Sam Cassell, Sr., energetically ripped into the NCAA for, in his mind, unfairly punishing his son. Although the elder Cassell’s biases are obvious, he does have an interesting point regarding who the NCAA has the power to punish:

They do whatever they want. It doesn’t even do any good to fight it. The NCAA just wants kids to fail. It’s not these kids’ fault. The NCAA can’t penalize Notre Dame Prep, so they are squashing the kids’ dreams.

5. ESPN: Mark Gottfried’s recruiting continues to impress as the NC State Wolfpack secured the services of one of the best point guards in the entire 2013 class. Anthony “Cat” Barber signed on to wear red in Raleigh, and the Wolfpack just got a little scarier. Hopefully that will help ease the agony of the still-unresolved situation with Rodney Purvis.

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Morning Five: 09.14.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2012

  1. Jim Calhoun is no longer the head men’s basketball coach at Connecticut, and for most of us covering this sport, we really don’t know of a time when that wasn’t the case. Say what you like about him, but the 70-year old head coach is arguably the greatest program-builder of the modern era. Consider this factoid: When Calhoun took the helm at UConn in 1986, the program hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game in a decade and only had achieved four victories in its history. Since then? Forty-eight NCAA victories, 10 Big East championships, and of course, those three national titles. Incredible. Let’s run down some of the best articles on the legacy of Calhoun: Seth Davis (“His pals joke that he’s not happy unless he’s miserable.”); Mike DeCourcy (“That is what Calhoun did better than anyone, ever: Coaching ‘em up.”); Dana O’Neil (“He was pointed without being vicious, upfront with his complaint, yet willing to concede that there were two sides to that particular story.”); Alexander Wolff (“Calhoun needed a cantilevered epaulet for the chip on his shoulder.”); Andy Katz (“He created a national power at a school that lacked tradition, facilities and a deep recruiting pool.”). There’s also this collection of some of his best quotes from The Connecticut Post.
  2. Jim Calhoun helped make the Big East the basketball juggernaut that it became, but now upon the week of his retirement, he must feel rather bittersweet about yet another very good basketball program (Notre Dame) alighting for the greener pastures of the ACC. The media analysis is varied, but by and large, most people seem to think that this move was a win/win for both the school and the new conference. Head coach Mike Brey certainly must think so, given the reported quote to his AD regarding conference realignment: “Please don’t take me to the Big 12.” All chuckling aside, the ACC’s John Swofford can rest easy in the knowledge that he’s managed to protect both the league’s all-important basketball and academic branding while keeping the football schools in Florida and South Carolina equally engaged. If the ACC decides to grab another similarly situated basketball/Olympic sports school in the near future to get to 16, we proffered a few leading candidates on Thursday.
  3. We mentioned earlier this week the Raleigh News & Observer‘s report that Tyler Hansbrough‘s mother, Tami, had come under fire along with her boyfriend Matt Kupec (the Chief of UNC fundraising until this week) over a number of personal trips funded with university dollars where the couple traveled around the country to watch her other son, Ben Hansbrough, play basketball for Notre Dame. She was originally placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, but late Wednesday Hansbrough tendered her resignation to the school, leaving little question as to her alleged culpability. The six trips to see the younger Hansbrough occurred during the 2010-11 season, but according to the N&O, the couple has taken as many as 25 trips together since May 2010 on the school’s dime. It’s unclear at this point whether any or all of those trips were legitimate, but this is yet another black stain on the UNC brand — it makes you wonder just what kind of internal controls they have in place in Chapel Hill, because it certainly doesn’t appear there are many.
  4. Sean Miller is absolutely tearing it up on the recruiting trail down in the desert, as five-star prospect in the Class of 2013, Rondae Jefferson, has committed to the Wildcats. A 6’7″, 215-lb. small forward from Chester, Pennsylvania, Jefferson’s commitment proves that the UA brand name remains relevant nationally, as Miller is on track to bring in his third straight top 10 recruiting class with this pickup. ESPN.com‘s Paul Biancardi describes Jefferson as one of the hardest-working players in his class, and is somewhat reminiscent of Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in his relentless attacks on the rim. It’s been over a decade since another RJ patrolled the wing at the McKale Center, but without question Miller is looking to bring back those glory days with a continual influx of players like these. One other recruiting note: According to Rivals.com, eight of the top 10 players nationally in this class are still uncommitted.
  5. Let’s close with an uplifter in a week that was less than so… remember the tearjerker of a story involving a Gettysburg College player named Cory Weissman who had suffered a terrible stroke but who received a chance to play and made a single free throw — the only point of his college career — on Senior Day last season? The story got a lot of coverage last spring, with ESPN, SI, NPR, and just about everyone else doing a feature profile on his remarkable story. Well, that story had some legs, as 1,000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story will begin shooting on the Gettysburg campus a little later this fall. If you don’t recall his triumphant moment, you can check it out on Youtube here — just make sure you have a few Kleenex handy.
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Morning Five: 09.11.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2012

  1. In the span of four days, Lance Thomas has become a much bigger name some two years after his graduation from Duke than the role player ever was during his time attending Duke. Everyone who follows college basketball in any capacity whatsoever has an opinion on how and why Thomas got himself embroiled in a jewelry purchase and loan during December 2009 that could ultimately cause the Blue Devils’ 2010 national championship to come under duress if he was in fact ineligible at the time. Here’s a smattering of written opinion on the matter from Monday: ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil does a good job framing the debate, but the jewel (ahem) in her piece openly refers to the dilemma that the NCAA faces in pursuing information and potential sanctions against one of its sacred cows. Bylaw Blog‘s John Infante describes the leverage that the NCAA could have over Thomas in order to force him to talk to them (namely, that the jeweler is likely to give his side of the story, forcing Thomas to respond). Over at CBSSports.com, Matt Norlander examines the Thomas case through the prism of troubles surrounding each of the four major programs on Tobacco Road, but the most compelling point in his story is that Thomas at Duke was apparently known as someone not at all prone to flash. Yet… we know that he purchased nearly $100,000 worth of jewelry. So many questions…
  2. Meanwhile, the hits keep coming at UNC. A report from the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday evening disclosed that former Tar Heel quarterback Matt Kupec, who had returned to the school to become its chief fundraiser, tendered his resignation when presented with evidence that he and Tami Hansbrough (the 2008 NPOY Tyler’s divorced mother, also a UNC fundraiser) took personal trips together on the university’s dime. Hansbrough was placed on administrative leave from her job at the school, but given her already tenuous job history at the school and allegations from school chancellor Holden Thorp that some of these trips were to watch her other son, Ben Hansbrough, play at Notre Dame, we’re wondering just how many other surprises there are hiding out on the various servers and job descriptions tangentially related to football and basketball at this university? More to come, we’re sure — welcome to 2012, the year that integrity in college athletics came home to roost.
  3. The Billy Gillispie saga continues to churn along, with additional news on Monday reported by ESPN.com that the Red Raiders’ leading returning scorer, Jordan Tolbert, hasn’t heard from the head coach in two or three weeks and doesn’t want to play for him again. In addition to that, CBSSports.com reported on Monday that Gillispie was not actually on sick leave as many outlets had reported; he is instead using accrued sick time to recuperate and has allegedly told athletic director Kirby Holcutt that he is not well enough to meet. While this very space has all but declared Gillispie’s head coaching career in Lubbock to be over, our Big 12 microsite’s Danny Spewak makes a compelling argument that the media’s general rush to judgment without hearing his side of the story is journalism at its worst – and you know what, he’s right.
  4. Connecticut may not have a lot to play for next season, and depending on the mood of its head coach, they may be looking at a complete programmatic overhaul, but the returning backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will ultimately determine the Huskies’ ceiling. The Napier half of that equation underwent surgery late last week to repair a nagging stress fracture on his right foot that doctors felt was not healing quickly enough for the point guard to be ready for the season. The rising junior is UConn’s most talented returning player and a legitimate candidate for Big East postseason individual honors, so they absolutely will need his production next winter to avert a massive cliff dive in both record and status.
  5. Larry Brown is well into his first year as the head coach of the SMU Mustangs, but the sad truth is that the rebuilding process will take some time in light of the paucity of talent left at the Dallas school. With that in mind, perhaps Brown’s open tryout scheduled for September 18 at the Crum Basketball Center will yield a diamond or two in the rough. You never know when a future Hall of Famer like Chicago Bulls great (and Central Arkansas walk-on) might literally stroll through your door. For those of you looking to get some instruction by the only dual NBA/NCAA coaching champion, the deadline to enroll in classes at SMU has unfortunately already passed. Maybe next year.
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